Players pack up, uncertain of future with Rays

Peralta, Zobrist among those with options to be picked up for 2015

Players pack up, uncertain of future with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays cleaned out their lockers on Monday afternoon at Tropicana Field, and as their offseason begins, some players said they know they could be in a different clubhouse next season.

Tampa Bay began 2014 with a franchise-record $82.1 million payroll, and owner Stuart Sternberg has said it will not be as high next year. Trading David Price certainly factors into a lower 2015 budget, but several Rays also have potential salaries that might not be picked up.

Super utility man Ben Zobrist has a $7.5 million option, but he was the Rays' best player this season with a team-high 5.0 WAR. The club likely wants to keep him around. Another with an option, though, is veteran reliever Joel Peralta, who was ineffective at times in 2014 and would be owed $2.5 million. Peralta said on Monday that he wants to be back next year.

"I hope so, I'm hoping to," Peralta said. "I haven't talked to anybody -- [executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman] and I, we haven't talked. I'm hoping to be back. I want to be here, but I don't know what's gonna happen."

Cuts may also come from among the Rays' nine arbitration-eligible players. Some, like outfielder Matt Joyce and infielder Sean Rodriguez could end up elsewhere, based on subpar performances in 2014, the Rays' situation at their positions and the salaries they'd command.

In Joyce's case, Tampa Bay has a crowded outfield, and the veteran hit only nine home runs this year and didn't play much against left-handed pitchers.

"I wouldn't be surprised either way," Joyce said on Monday. "Obviously, I'd like to be here. I have another year on the contract, and it's my home. ... For right now, I'm still a Tampa Bay Ray. I have every intention of working my butt off and getting ready to stay a Tampa Bay Ray, and come back and have a successful season next year."

Rodriguez struggled at the plate as well this season, batting just .211, and was often relegated to pinch-hitting duty. Plus, infielder Nick Franklin, one of the prospects the Rays got in the Price deal, played well after being called up in September.

"You always hope you're gonna be one of those guys that continues coming back and stays with the team," Rodriguez said. "But that's the nature of the business. It's tough, but you hope for the best, and just prepare for any and everything."

David Adler is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.